It didn’t take long for the Major Midget Kootenay Ice to make history, winning its first game as part of the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy (HPHA) and doing so in dramatic fashion.
The Ice rang off two straight victories over the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds at the BC Hockey Major Midget showcase in Richmond on the weekend. Kootenay shut out the Hawks 3-0 on Sunday following a nail-biting, come-from-behind 4-3 victory in its first overtime game the previous afternoon.
“I don’t know what their past records are, but everyone I’ve talked to said we did three things on the weekend that this team hasn’t done in 10 years,” said Midget Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “We won back-to-back games, we win in overtime, and we get a shutout.”
In Saturday’s match, Kootenay Ice forward Ethan Jang scored the historic winning goal one minute and 11 seconds into overtime to give the Ice its first victory of the season and its first as part of the HPHA program in Trail.
However, it didn’t look good to start. The T-birds jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals from Dylan Debruyn and two from Blake Bonnar.
“It was funny because even as coaches on the bench, we were sitting there and thinking ‘Oh no here we go again,’” said Boyce.
A between-period pep talk by one of the veteran players lit a fire under the Ice team and they came out flying in the second.
Kootenay forward Simon Nemethy converted a setup from D.J. Horne and Castlegar’s Aiden Jenner to get the Ice on the board at 10:49 of the second period.
After the T-birds Thomas Colter was sent off for cross checking, Fruitvale native Owen Titus notched his second of the season, with the assist to Horne, to make it 3-2 less than two minutes into the third period. Seventy-seven seconds later, Jenner took a pass from Ethan Jang and beat Fraser Valley goalie Chad Cromar to make it 3-3.
The score stayed deadlocked for the remaining 17 minutes to force the five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime. With the play deep in the Fraser Valley end, Jang raced behind the net and beat the Thunderbirds’ defender to the puck. He wheeled around the net and from an almost impossible angle, rifled it in under the crossbar for the win.
“The guys went crazy after that,” said Boyce, adding that following a tough start the team’s effort was “amazing” in the last two periods and overtime.
In Sunday’s match, Jaysen MacLean registered the shutout in goal for the Ice as they skated to a 3-0 victory of the T-birds.
“Our goalie stood on his head,” said Boyce. “I told the guys they’re going to come at us hard, but if we can handle that first period against them we should be alright.”
Jang continued with his hot hand scoring his third of the season and second game-winner in as many games at 4:54 of the second period on a pretty passing play with Tommy McConnachie and Christian Macasso. Kootenay’s Niall Lawrence, a Whitehorse native, notched his first of the season to make it 2-0 with 1:30 to play in the middle frame, and McConnachie rounded out the scoring with an insurance marker from Jenner and Macasso 6:44 into the third period.
“They came at us hard in the first period of that second game, and we boxed them up, we didn’t allow them many scoring chances, they got frustrated and then we just played our game from there on.”
The 2-2 Ice return to Richmond this weekend to play the 0-3-1-1 Vancouver Greater Valley Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday.